40 Responses

  1. Oh yes, when you’re born on third base, it’s easy to defend those who claim you hit a triple. Curiously the “staunch defender” of monarchism was not born a peasant or a peon, which, given the ratios of peasantry to “nobility” would have been far more likely, no?

  2. Waiting here for the return of the king…

  3. What is this babbler trying to say?

  4. Well, continental, it’s not that hard to defend a system which gave you everything with you having to do nothing to earn it. When you’re a viscount, the corrupt system that made you a nobleman for no reason other than coming from the sperm of the right male seems worth defending. You know, kind of like Kim Jong Un likely has a view of North Korean governance that’s less… dim, shall we say, than those of his underlings.

  5. You are saying that the system that awards power and a short-term interest in grabbing all that he can to either the most-convincing liar or to the scoundrel who offers people the largest number of ways of using the state to rob their neighbors blind, i.e., democracy, is less corrupt?

  6. If it’s corrupt to inherit something, then private property and the family themselves are corrupt. It’s human nature–and no shameful aspect of it–that a man wants to make an inheritance for his children, and that a family wants to pass down a legacy. The difference between the nobles of Bonald’s day and the millionaires of ours is that Bonald inherited duties as well as property.

  7. “[T]he difference between the nobles of Bonald’s day and the millionaires of ours is that Bonald inherited duties as well as property.”

    Well said!

  8. Yes. Infinitely.

  9. I guess your lack of any logic or historical perspective is, indeed, ameliorated by your well-turned phrase at the end (though I have some suspicions that you might have picked it up somewhere). There is a difference between “passing down a legacy” and “passing down totalitarian rule”. I guess you don’t have a problem with North Korea either then. After all, Kim Jong Il was just being a good father and “passing down duties” to sonny boy.

  10. Infinitely better? Nitwit.

  11. Fafsa is trolling us.

  12. Trolling (n.) — pointing out obvious flaws in logic.
    Ex.: “Fafsa is trolling us.”

  13. Good one! What’s, was “poopy-head” too difficult to spell, TCO?

  14. fafsa, I’m losing patience with you. If you want to know my argument for monarchy, please consult my essay on the subject. I’m utterly astounded that someone who prides himself on his “historical perspective” sees no significant difference between North Korean communism and the French ancien regime. Besides, shouldn’t you approve of North Korean totalitarianism? It’s the logical endpoint of the egalitarian, “inherited property is corruption; social distinctions are evil” ideology you seem to endorse.

  15. I’m really glad we enlightened Americans, who live in a progressive state, haven’t had to live the last twelve years under rulers who were acclaimed to the throne because of who their fathers were.

  16. I will live with the tragedy of your lost patience. Somehow, I will find a way.

    I have tried reading your essay on god, and if your defense of the monarchy is anything like that one, I don’t really think I’m going to waste my time. I was not, however, referring to YOUR defense of the monarchy, which is superfluous to this discussion. I was referring to (the real) Bonald’s. It’s easy to defend a thoroughly horrible and corrupt system when you’re the one benefiting from the horror and corruption. That is all.

    As for me approving of North Korea because I believe in freedom… I’m sorry, but is this Opposites Day, and I was somehow not notified? Or are you under the impression that if you find the stupidest possible thing to say, and say it gravely, the sheer incongruity of the statement would make the reader think it must be so incredibly deep that it doesn’t make any sense? I can play at this game too, you know. “Ice cream is the hottest food known to man”. There we go, that wasn’t so hard.

  17. Is this sarcasm?

  18. Did dan move to another computer at the library?

  19. As usual, don’t let your ignorance keep you from mouthing off to your intellectual superiors.

  20. fafsa, I agree with your political views, but you’re making a bit of a fool of yourself here.

    Why not write a scholarly rebuttal of (the original) Bonald’s views? I’d do it myself, but my French is a bit [i]débrouillard[/i] and there don’t seem to be any English translations of his stuff online.

  21. Do I have to write a “scholarly rebuttal” in order to observe that it was self-serving for Bonald to defend an institution that unfairly rewarded him for his accident of birth? Do I need to write a journal review article to note that Paris Hilton is a bit of a whore? Should I publish a treatise before being allowed to notice that maybe Bill Gates’ use of Microsoft products is not 100% based on their quality? Do I need to get a freaking book deal every time I want to offer an opinion or make a simple observation about anything?

  22. *Everyone* is unfairly rewarded, and punished, by the accidents of their births, and of their lives. The world is not fair. That’s just the way it is. Trying to make the world less unfair can only be accomplished by making it unfair in some other way. There is conservation of fairness; it is a corollary of the conservation laws of physics.

  23. What is fair?

  24. The most boring of all “critiques.” See if you can name the logical fallacy your joyless trolling rests on.

  25. Supposing he was merely writing out of self-interest, does that make him wrong? How do you know if you adamantly refuse to read any of the literature on monarchy or address its substance?

    It’s self-serving for leftists to pretend as if they were courageous free-thinkers despite mindlessly aping the individualist/utilitarian/atheist/socialist spirit of the present age. No one imagines THAT is the reason they’re wrong.

  26. Hello fafsa,

    I’m sorry for letting our discussion devolve into an exchange of insults. I try to keep a higher level than that on this blog, but I’ve failed in this case. I do acknowledge that I haven’t presented my case for hierarchical societies with inherited status (any more than you’ve presented a case against it), and I don’t blame you for not wanting to commit to reading a full essay by someone of whose reasoning has thus far not impressed you. You must realize from my point of view that it’s hard to challenge my time’s unquestioned political assumptions without taking up a fair amount of space. I have no stock of generally accepted slogans to fall back on.

    As for Bonald himself, I don’t see why you can’t respect him as a man of principle, even if you reject his principles. No doubt the social order he defended had been good to him–for which his proper response was gratitude–but he stood by his loyalty to the Bourbons when it certainly wasn’t a prudent thing to do, at least in a worldly sense. From what I have read elsewhere, he was very conscientious in performing the duties of his station. I suppose you are saying that Bonald’s loyalty was less meritorious than that of the Vendee peasants, who occupied a lower place in the order they defended. I suppose that may be true, but then since this is a theoretical blog, we tend to look for intellectual heroes, and Bonald did important work in reactionary political theory.

    Again, I hope we can be off on a better footing now.

  27. It’s undoubtedly self-serving for an aristo to defend an aristocratic polity, but that sort of claim doesn’t get us very far. You could equally psychologize the stance taken by the peasants of the Vendée by saying that they suffered from false consciousness (in the Marxian sense). But none of this gets to grips with the rightness or wrongness of the ideas at issue, any more than hurling insults does.

  28. Proph is correct (in the first paragraph). I would merely add that this works both ways – the fact that liberal democracy is the largely unquestioned received wisdom in the West doesn’t mean that it’s *wrong* (if anything, it creates a presumption in the other direction). Being a free-thinking contrarian is very overrated.

  29. @Kristor – Conservation of Fairness – that is blimmin brilliant! Can I steal this comment for *my* blog?

  30. Hi Reggie,

    I absolutely agree. The fact that liberalism is largely accepted by the populace should be taken as a mark in its favor. The presumption should be (and, of course, is) against my positions.

  31. There is conservation of fairness

    This is pure assertion. There is no indication that it is actually true.

  32. I concur

  33. Pascal puts forward the best argument for monarchy:
    ” The most unreasonable things in the world become most reasonable, because of the unruliness of men. What is less reasonable than to choose the eldest son of a queen to rule a State? We do not choose as captain of a ship the passenger who is of the best family.

    This law would be absurd and unjust; but, because men are so themselves and always will be so, it becomes reasonable and just. For whom will men choose, as the most virtuous and able? We at once come to blows, as each claims to be the most virtuous and able. Let us then attach this quality to something indisputable. This is the king’s eldest son. That is clear, and there is no dispute. Reason can do no better, for civil war is the greatest of evils.”

  34. My assertion follows straightforwardly from the conservation laws. Fairness is a species of order. There is a finite amount of order in the cosmos. This in turn follows from the ontological finitude of the cosmos, which entails that there is a finite amount of *everything* in the cosmos. The finitude of the cosmos follows, likewise, on the one hand from its creatureliness, and on the other from its definitude – on the fact that it is just the thing that it is, rather than being any number of different things at the same time (i.e., if follows from limitation per se).

    You can’t generate more order in the cosmos than is already present therein. All you can do is rearrange the orderliness that’s already there. And such rearrangements generate disorder – moral disorder (NB that all order is basically moral order; for order is a *value*). So, the more you try to make things less unfair in one way in one place, the more you have to make them more unfair somewhere else, or in some other way.

    There, I’ve tied my bare assertion all the way back to first things. Need more fleshing out of the intermediate steps or premises?

    To make this a bit more concrete: you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Nor, likewise, can Joe and Jerry both eat the same slice of cake. In a universe where those sorts of things could happen, everything could be perfectly fair in every way for everyone from every point of view. But such a universe could not be just the sort of thing that it is. Such a universe would have to be, rather, any number of different things (it would be the *nominalist* universe!). That’s the only way it could accommodate contradictory states of affairs. But a universe that is not just the sort of thing that it is, isn’t any particular thing at all; i.e., it isn’t anything at all. It doesn’t exist.

  35. I am reminded of the memorable words in the recent film “War Horse”, spoken by the British cavalry commander to his troops just before their charge on an enemy position: “Be Brave! Fear God! Honour the King!” These words, so naturally stirring, closely echo those of Lord Kitchener, the Field Marshall of the British Expeditionary Force in the Great War. What is jarring to consider is how flat they would be in effect if, instead of invoking the name of the King, one would instead invoke a president, premier or prime minister. Who is such a man to command my obedience unto death? One may lay down one’s life for a King – and many have, with honor. But for a president? There is a reason that, in the American experience, men have never gone to war for the President, but rather for “democracy” or “the union” or “against tyranny”. What is precisely lacking is the authority of kingship, an authority which must necessarily stand above the mere outcome of a democratic vote.

    Shakespeare gives a very direct taste of this in “King Lear”, Act I, Scene IV. Kent, Lear’s faithful liegeman, earlier rashly banished by Lear, returns in disguise to be of service to his King:

    KING LEAR: What wouldst thou?
    KENT: Service.
    KING LEAR: Who wouldst thou serve?
    KENT: You.
    KING LEAR: Dost thou know me, fellow?
    KENT: No, sir; but you have that in your countenance which I would fain call master.
    KING LEAR: What’s that?
    KENT: Authority.

  36. My assertion follows straightforwardly from the conservation laws.

    You can’t simply literalize a metaphor or analogy and proclaim it the truth.

  37. Where’s the metaphor or analogy?

  38. @Kristor:

    Where’s the metaphor or analogy?

    Comparing an abstract concept like “fairness” to sharing cake seems like a metaphor or analogy to me. I think you’re going to have to work harder to show that fairness is a zero-sum game.

  39. I guess I don’t see what the difficulty is in understanding the allocation (not sharing, but parceling out by a parent to children) of cake as either fair or unfair – not analogically or metaphorically, but actually and concretely. In using that example of fairness, I was trying to reach back to the most primitive notion of fairness that most of us will ourselves have employed, and that (presumably) almost all of us have experienced, as children – along with quite intense and acute feelings (i.e., emotions in respect to moral judgements) – that the outcome of a given round of cake allocation was either fair or unfair.

    Allocation of cake between two young siblings is not a *metaphor* for fairness, it is an event that *just is* either fair or unfair, so far as those siblings are both concerned. Compared to the allocation of cake between two young siblings, almost any other instance of fairness seems awfully abstract and attenuated and high-falutin’, and subject to all sorts of qualifiers and conditions and considerations and arguments one way or another.

    In a universe where both Joe and Jerry could be allocated as much of the available cake as each of them thought, mutatis mutandis, that they deserved, no judgements of unfairness in respect to cake allocation could possibly arise. Everyone would be satisfied that he had been treated fairly. But the only sort of universe that would be absolutely prevented form any such judgements of unfairness would be a universe wherein Joe and Jerry could each eat, e.g., 2/3 of the available cake. I.e., it would either be a universe that did not obey conservation laws (such as Heaven), or it would be a universe that did obey such laws, but that could also accomodate contradictory states of affairs in a coherent causal order – an absurdity.

    It may be objected that this line of argument relies too much upon the subjective assessments of the siblings in respect to their just desserts, and that we should instead rely upon an absolute standard of fairness, that governs the proper allocation of cake no matter what they think. But sub specie aeternitatis, too, a given concrete allocation of cake may be either concretely fair or unfair: if Joe is given 2/3 of the available cake when Justice would have given him 1/2, then an injustice has been done, even if Jerry apprehends nothing problematic about the allocation.

  40. The words come from 2 Peter 2:17

    “For King and Country” represents the coalescence of the two great sources of allegiance, the personal, military loyalty of superior and vassal and the solidarity of neighbours and the love of place.

    It is already present in the Song of Roland, in the 8th century, where the dying Roland thinks of his lord, Charlemagne and of “douce France et les homes de sa ligne” – “Fair France and the men of his line”

    La Pucelle, whom the English call Joan of Arc, united these twin loyalties, through her insistence on their focus in an anointed king; for her, Charles VIII was only the Dauphin, until his anointing at Rheims. One recalls that her home village of Domremy had, as its patron, St Remy, who anointed Clovis as the most Christian King of the Franks.

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